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on 12 July 2011
`Physics of the Future' offers a grand tour of the future of science: through computing, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, medicine, energy, space flight, the economy and politics. Technology is one of the strongest drivers of change in human society and economy, so it's great to have a sneak preview of what's around the corner.

Weighing in at 360 pages the book's not deep, but it doesn't need to be. Its purpose is to expose the reader to bright new possibilities: I'd never thought about my clothes calling an ambulance if they detected blood. The author's excitement for science is infectious. If I had a teenage sibling, they'd be getting a copy.

The writing, however, is poor. There is significant repetition. Paragraphs have clearly been copy `n' pasted around in the book. This gives the feeling it was dashed off to meet a publisher's deadline. The book's excess of quotations suggests the influence of ghost researchers.
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on 12 May 2011
This was a really interesting read. I have previously read Kaku's 'Parallel Worlds' and thoroughly enjoyed it and therefore thought I might give this book a go. I was not disappointed, I found it very intriguing and difficult to put down until I had finished and continue to flick through it now to re-read my favourite sections. Kaku explains the path of technology and discusses with prominent scientists what is currently being explored in the world of medicine, robotics, computers and also the world of quantum physics and what this will mean in regards to our daily lives in the future. He also talks about the future of space travel (including things such as the possibility of a space elevator) the future of energy, wealth, nanotechnology, virtual worlds, holograms, internet contact lenses and universal translators plus many other ideas. It really is fascinating to find out how many of these ideas are already being explored and made into prototypes as Kaku discovers on visits to places such as Silicon Valley, CERN, Tokyo, plus many more laboratories and universities all over the world, speaking with people working on the cutting edge of scientific discovery. Kaku also shows a sense of humour, frequently mentioning how many of these ideas appear in things we will have seen or heard of in Sci Fi films and shows such as Star Trek, Star Wars, iRobot and even the Wizard of Oz. Kaku also explains a scale used to measure the advancement of civilizations which I found extremely interesting and have read about in another of his books but which was expanded upon further here. Overall this is an absorbing and evocative read that I would recommend.
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on 10 May 2012
This book is a great read for anyone who is not familiar with Kaku's views and the various chapters on technologies such as nanotech, biotech and robotics/cybernetics.

Having read some of Kaku's previous books there is some (or a lot depending on the chapter you are reading) repetition from these works but some of the other insights into the fields that aren't directly related to his own (all things quantum), are interesting and presented in a readable way.

The book should be seen as an overview of the various things happening now and what might develop from these in the future (The book is only 350+ pages long - so don't expect depth, as each area could easily fill a comparable book in size).

Like pointed out in another review I think Kaku is holding back a bit in this book (perceived target audience?!?), as there are areas where you can sense Kaku's interest and desire to go into more detail, before all of a sudden the section finishes. But hey, thats what the notes at the end of the book are for so that you can read related books about the areas that interest you.

What comes out at the end is Kaku's optimisim about humanity and the trends/techs that will get us there. Indeed what he sees as the trend is many peoples nightmare (increasing globalism - a global approach to the social, political and economic spheres of life).
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Just about any invention is possible, provided it does not violate the laws of physics. What are these laws? The first force is gravity, which holds us down to the ground and stops the sun exploding and the planets of the solar system flying apart. The second is electromagnetism that allows us to light up our cities and for you to read this review on a computer. The third and fourth are strong and weak nuclear forces that literally hold the atoms and ourselves together. This actually allows us to do rather a lot, as Kaku shows in this book.

The chapters are divided into examining the future of the computer, artificial intelligence, medicine, nanotechnology, energy, space travel and wealth. Each chapter is scoped to anticipate developments in the near future (i.e. to 2030), the intermediate (2030 to 2070) and the far future (2070 to 2100). By the end of the century he envisages unlimited information, accessed without having to log on to a computer, a plethora of robots undertaking all manner of tasks, automatic cars that can float on superconductors, fusion power, microscopic robots that can kill cancer. Even the ageing process may be slowed or conquered altogether. Unlike Star Trek though, humanity will remain Earth bound. Tiny robot probes may be sent to survey the local region of our galaxy instead.

Some innovations are beginning to take shape now. Human organs have been grown in a laboratory. After many false starts and high profile hoaxes, prototype fusion reactors have been developed. The book concludes with a day in the life survey of an inhabitant of New York on 1 Jan 2100. He is 71 years old but looks 30. He has had new organs grown from scratch after suffering a serious skiing accident and drives automatic cars that levitate above the ground and takes a trip up a space elevator.

If this all sounds too fantastical, and sounds like an example of moon-eyed technology worship, then rest assured. Kaku is aware that science is a double-edged sword. The ethical and social implications of various developments are considered. He is sceptical for instance that we can ever build a robot that is fully conscious. What even the most sophisticated report lacks is an ability to learn. In this respect, a cockroach is smarter than any robot. But robots can and will be developed to enable them to do highly complex, specialized tasks, in the home and in the workplace. However, the further into the future Kaku peers, the more speculative his predictions become.

But on what basis does he make such predictions anyway? From talking to over 300 experts in their various fields. So although this book is speculation, it is well-informed and interesting speculation.

The drawback in that inevitably in a book covering so many fields is that the coverage of the different topics can be superficial. This is no surprise. Given that the author spoke to over 300 experts, he had to make choices to compress his material down to manageable dimensions and make the content comprehensible to a lay audience, too. Neither is he an accomplished stylist on scale of Carl Sagan. Having said that, I think that he still does an admirable job of outlining the sorts of innovations we can expect to see over the next decades in language intelligible to those who do not have a background in science.

This is not an inspirational book but it is an interesting one. For those of you who are curious as to what the future might hold (who isn't?) then the book is worth a read.
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on 19 August 2012
If you have never read Kaku before you'll probably find this book quite interesting (at least parts of it), however, personally I have two major criticisms:
1) Regarding the physical science aspect, there is little he has not published before and which is presented far better in e.g. "Physics of the Impossible".
2) Where the book really loses the plot is when predictions of advancements in physics are set in a context of economic and social theories that are over-simplistic as well as naively optimistic.
Overall, I was left with the feeling that this was conceived because it was time to publishing another book, rather than waiting a bit longer for something genuinely different to say.
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on 4 August 2014
I love Michio Kaku. His view of the future is so positive. He is has the rare gift of being a true scientist that can convey his passion and insight in such an interesting and captivating way that would appeal to anyone. Some scientists and futurologists can be so boring.
I just wish he was my teach when i was a child.
A great book with grist future predications that makes me very excited about our future
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VINE VOICEon 24 March 2014
Not only does Michio tell you how the future is going to pan out, but he also tells you why other things will fail. He also tells you why his predictions are acurate. And why having this foresight is possible. Early in the book he mentions Lionardo de Vinci and his flying machine and calculator which where just drawings which actually worked when built to his instructions in the 20th century. An amazing read with the science explained so well even I could understand!
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on 29 July 2013
Michio Kaku gives a fascinating insight to the advances currently being made in science and technology, and ponders where that may lead us in the near and far future. This is not merely speculation, but a realistic estimate made by one of the worlds most respected physicist, and countless other figures that lead their respective scientific fields. Well worth a read.
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on 23 June 2015
In the future your toothbrush will tell you in the morning whether you have cancer, catching the earliest of flickering signs way before it becomes even remotely difficult to treat (by the standards of the future of course) --- personally I can't wait to get there. Great book, loved it. If you love it too try An Optimist's Tour of the Future by Mark Stevenson.
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on 26 June 2013
Every single page in this fascinating book is packed with breath-taking revelations about future technology, all firmly grounded in what is being done today, and where it is going. As a fiction writer who reads science books to harvest facts in which to bed my stories, I found this to be one of the most helpful books ever. Its strength is the sheer breadth of material gathered from many scientists. To his credit, the author doesn't opt for the lazy editor's method of simply copying and pasting chunks from other people's research, rather he explains it in his own words, clearly, concisely and most importantly, in ways that a lay-person can understand, a rare skill among scientists. Some of his suppositions about the future are obviously open to challenge, and I think he probably under-estimates people's reluctance to change and to adopt new technology. For example, I think his suggestion that people will wear contact lenses to access the internet, and that computers as we know them will become redundant may certainly apply to a few people in developed countries, but not to the population at large for a very long time, if at all. Not many of us will wear clothes smart enough to call an ambulance when we have accidents, or have replicators in our homes which can manufacture household items from raw materials. But I could be wrong, and he might be right. Despite those reservations, this remains in my top five of all-time science books, and I cannot recommend it too highly.
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